Ooh! Flashy lights! Shiny!


Ashtar, you’re bitching about New Jersey driving? Next you’ll pit New Yorkers for being assholes.

Giraffe, I’d be more convinced by your explanation if I hadn’t seen plenty of situations where traffic has backed up due to an incident in the other direction. Plenty of people people are slowing things down by looking.

oh, jersey! how i miss my home sweet home!

You know that stupid Budweiser commercial “Real Men of Genious”? Well a local morning show does a pretty funny spoof on it. One of them is about people who slow down to look at nothing, it’s just some cop that has a guy pulled over, making my 40 minute commute last 6 houuuuUUUURRRs…etc.

Sorry, noting really to add other than your rant reminded me of this silly spoof, I empathize. I HATE those idiots too.

Wouldn’t that slow things down even more? 'Cos then you’d have more rubberneckers slowing down to see the other rubberneckers you just shot {call them Rubberneckers A}, and by the time you’d dealt with Rubberneckers B, Rubberneckers C would have shown up, and the Rubberneckers would just keep on multiplying exponentially until everyone in the whole world except you would be a rubbernecker and you’d have to kill them all, only you’d run out of shells and have to use a tyre iron or something, which would be a whole lot slower giving more Rubberneckers time to arrive, and the whole thing would just be like this huge nightmare with you beating back hordes and hordes of Rubberneckers only more and more just kept coming at you.

That’s when you upgrade to the plasma rifle. :smiley:

Only what you see.

My understanding is that traffic flow is very similar to fluid dynamics.

As far as I’m concerned, the most efficient way to merge is like a zipper. I constantly scream this at people in an effort to educate them on this. :smiley:

But doesn’t that just illustrate the point? When you have a certain density of traffic on the road, backups are going to occur no matter what. I don’t see how the fact that the other direction is experiencing the same problem proves that it must be people stopping to look. Assuming that both sides of the road are experiencing equal traffic density, you’re going to get backups on both sides. The backup may well have been caused by some guy slowing for the flashing lights, but it’s quite likely that he’s half an hour down the road by now, and the rest of you are just the inevitable victims of a very strange dynamic system (and all of you cursing the guy directly in front :slight_smile: ).

Really, this is a heavily studied subject; in the right traffic conditions it need only take a few (or even one) driver(s) slowing slightly (e.g. as a reasonable precaution when they see flashing lights) to set off a standing wave which will take some considerable time to dissipate, even if the cause is removed. Here’s the description of one type of model, with a nifty video. Well, niftyish. And another story relating to how humans are really all to blame, just because of the way we drive naturally. I’m also going to link to this because while it’s not entirely relevant, it’s got a really cool animation.

They believe in rod, the scourger almighty, creator of hell upon earth, and in Jacky Tar, the son of a gun, who was conceived of unholy boast, born of the fighting navy, suffered under rump and dozen, was scarified, flayed and curried, yelled like bloody hell, the third day he arose again from the bed, steered into haven, sitteth on his beamend till further orders whence he shall come to drudge for a living and be paid.
—James Joyce, Ulysses

I noticed this one morning while driving to work, and was inspired to compose these lines on the spot:

Two traffic lanes merge
into one. Giant zipper
invisibly zips.

I’m not saying rubberneckers can’t cause traffic jams. I’m saying there are conditions in which, despite appearances, they don’t.